Sup Dudes. So even though it's only been a little over a week, I think free agency is just about done at this point. I know we can still sign players. But any player significant enough to affect our draft strategy is gone. Free Agency eased the pain at a few positions, and completely destroyed the foundation of one. So lets get started:***YES I KNOW that I left out picks. 12 Rookies ARE NOT making an NFL roster. It would be a waste of my time to mock that many. I might as well just mock as many rookies that I believe can actually make the team.***
Round 1: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State.
Height: 5'11" Weight: 200 lbs
2013 Season Stats: 62 Tackles, 4 INTs, 10 Passes Defended, 2 Forced Fumbles.
No, this is not a knee-jerk reaction to Free agency. I've been on the 1st round CB train for awhile now. For me, the 1st round was always between WR, CB, QB, and OLB. The QBs seem to be falling, but Its too soon to tell just yet. So that's another mock for another day. For OLB, I highly doubt Barr or Mack fall to 18. That leaves WR & CB on the board. If I had to stack who is a pound for pound better player at their position: I would say Dennard is better than Cooks & Beckham, so I'm choosing him. DD also fills a gigantic need. Its very rare that a pick is BPA & fills a huge need. So this pick is almost a no-brainer to me. Dennard is a great press-man CB with great instincts & deceptive athleticism. Very technically/fundamentally sound. Put him and Dee together, and in theory, our secondary should be set for the next 5 years if those 2 play up to their potential. Our biggest weakness would immediately turn into a young, cheap strength.
Round 2: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame.
Height: 6'6" Weight: 265 lbs
2013 Season Stats: 32 Receptions, 498 Receiving Yards, 5 Rec TDs.
Niklas is a HUGE dude. He is the physical mirror of Rob Gronkowski. Same height and weight, but to me Niklas seems to be a better athlete. For a man of his extreme size, he moves very precisely (As opposed to Gronk who kind of just lumbers around the field). I have seen his game tape, but have not watched enough ND football to know their offensive system. From what Ive been told though, his role in the offense was very limited due to the scheme they run. I was told that a majority of the time he was being used almost like a lineman. He is a solid blocker and should only get better in the NFL. I mean hell, he is just about as big as a lot of NFL Offensive Lineman are. Putting him next to Brick should ease a lot of his pain. As a receiver, Niklas didn't produce as well as someone with him potential should have. But once again, that may be attributed to his offensive scheme. I think with the proper coaching and opportunity, Niklas can develop into a monster of a TE. Well worth a 2nd Round pick.
Round 3: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU.
Height: 5'11" Weight: 205 lbs.
2013 Season Stats: 77 Receptions, 1193 Receiving Yards, 10 Rec TDs.
This is one thing that me and Mike Mayock can agree on: Jarvis Landry is a Top 5 WR in this draft class (Mayock had him at #5). He has so many great attributes that people like to forget about because of his combine. I'll be honest, his combine was TERRIBLE. Which is why he will fall to the 3rd Round. But from a skill-set standpoint, this guy is amazing. He can run routes, he catches EVERYTHING (and does it away from his body), and he's tough as nails. Think Anquan Boldin. That is his exact play style. If you throw a ball up for grabs, Landry is coming down with it, and the CB is going on the ground. Its that simple. He has amazingly strong hands, and is a pretty good leaper. I do not believe that he is as unathletic as he seemed at the combine. He is a game-time player. Look at the tape. No he doesn't posses the best speed or quickness, but he's got much more athleticism than he showed at the combine. Within the first 60 SECONDS of the video below, you will understand why I want Landry. The dude just MAKES PLAYS.
Round 4: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia.
Height: 6'1" Weight: 210 lbs.
2013 Season Stats: 65% Completion Percentage, 3075 Passing Yards, 26 Passing TDs, 9 INTs.
Like I have said before, I do not believe the addition of Vick changes our draft strategy at all. The addition of a 33 year old (Will be 34 by the season) will not stop us from drafting a QB at some point in the draft. A guy that fits into our draft, without breaking it is Aaron Murray. He fell very much under the radar this year. His Bulldogs had a rough time this year, and to cap it off, he tore his ACL late in the season. This should drop Murray to about the 3rd-5th Round. He is a 4 year starter (Had 52 CONSECUTIVE STARTS before he tore his ACL) and has been very productive in those 4 years. Brian Baldinger of NFL Network has been quoted saying "Aaron Murray will have the best NFL career out of the 2014 QB class". I obviously disagree but Murray has the tools to be a quality NFL starter. Hes extremely experienced, very smart, he takes care of the ball, has a good arm, solid accuracy. He isn't a burner but actually has a pretty nice set of wheels. Murray can take off if he needs to. Feel free to take a look at his tape. This guy is battle tested and would probably be a 2nd round pick if he hadn't gotten hurt. He's welcome on the squad to fight it out with Geno and Vick. If Murray doesn't shock everyone and win the job this summer (Which I think is possible, depending on his health), this upcoming season will do well for him as a red-shirt year where he can just sit back, practice & learn to prepare himself to fight at full health for the starting job in the Summer of 2015.
**(For the sake of just finally getting this done, I'm just gonna have the pics & a short blurb about each player from this point on.)
Round 4: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville.
Had a HUGE 2013 season & won some awards for his outstanding performance. Is a bit small to play DE and has a handful of technical flaws in his game that will need to be fixed. Couple that with the fact that he will be switching positions, that will drop him a few rounds to the 4th. He is a perfect fit as a 3-4 OLB, and could be used initially on passing downs. Until maybe one day he is ready to be a starter. But until then he will be a good rotational player that can bolster our outside pass rush.
Round 4: Josh Huff, WR, Oregon.
Huff will complete the primary part of our receiving core. He will provide solid depth to the newly improved core. Good speed, crafty route runner, good hands. He also has a high drive to win, desire to be great. Hard worker & positive locker-room presence.
Round 5: Vinnie Sunseri, SS, Alabama.
Vinnie was a quality starter at Alabama. Suffered a torn ACL back in October. HIGHLY Intelligent player. Understands the scheme, always makes the right reads. Can provide great run support and can play back deep. Excellent wrap up tackler. Doesn't go for the big hit, hero play. Vinnie knows his job and he does it well.
Round 6: Tre Boston, FS, North Carolina.
A CB converted to a FS. Has played CB/SS/FS in college. Making him extremely versatile, and valuable to a guy like Rex who loves to move people around. Dependable tackler, ball hawk (13 Career INTs), vocal leader of his secondary. But has average athleticism and reportedly is a bit immature. But I'm still drafting me any day because I'm getting a vocal leader, a ball hawk, & a guy that can play 3 positions.
Round 7: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon.
I don't really feel like going over this AGAIN. Lyerla is easily the most athletically explosive TE I've seen. He would have been a 2nd round pick had he not left the team/gotten arrested. Has the speed and quickness of a WR. Great hands and can play multiple positions. Play style is in the mold of Aaron Hernandez (No joke intended) but he is much larger than Hernandez so that helps further. Insane athleticism, great hands, can play multiple positions, can run the ball, good after the catch. The list of positives goes on and on. This is what a 7th round pick is for. I'm taking the gamble.
In this Mock we seriously load up on skill positions on both sides of the ball. Dennard paired with Dee will solidify our CB core for the next 7 years. Throw in Boston & Sunseri into the backfield and let them battle Antonio Allen, Jarret, Miles and the rest of the guys for spots. We finally upgrade our receiving core. We add Jarvis Landry to go with Decker on the outside. I have no doubt that Landry will develop into a big time playmaker in the NFL. A WR core of: Decker, Landry, Kerly, Huff, Nelson, Hill may not have the big names. But that core is versatile, reliable and centered around guys that can make plays on the football. We also upgrade the TE spot with Niklas, who is a giant that can block his ass off and is an unguardable red zone threat. Marcus Smith provides us with some linebacker depth and is added as a situational pass rusher. We also draft Aaron Murray to throw in the QB competition. While I do believe if healthy Murray would win the job, I do not think he is physically healthy enough this year. Most likely I see Murray taking this year as a redshirt year and using it to learn and practice, so that he is fully ready to rock next year.
What do you guys think?